Disability experience ‘essential’ to NDIS
The federal government expects the new board of the national disability insurance scheme to have some lived experience of disability.
It has also invited those board members whose terms expire next year to reapply for their positions.
Labor has accused the government of jeopardising the future of the scheme after posting job ads for the roles nine months in advance.
There are also concerns the new crop won’t have to know what it’s like to live with a disability.
Two existing board members have a disability, while another four have family members with impairments.
Disability advocates believe the required big company experience won’t cut it.
“You cannot have an effective NDIS without valuing the experience of the people for which the NDIS is designed,” Australian Federation of Disability Organisations boss Matthew Wright said in a statement on Friday.
Labor warned the scheme’s future was at risk, since those who created it will soon be gone and it criticised the timing of the announcement, saying many on the board were unaware their positions were being advertised.
The scheme needed certainty and stability at a critical time as it ramps up to full rollout.
“It is mean and heartless and just a little bit stupid, too, of (Tony) Abbott to jeopardise the future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme,” Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.
But the government has accused the opposition of scaremongering in an attempt to gain political advantage.
Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield says the scheme needs bipartisan support and suggestions it was doing something odd or inappropriate with the board were lies.
It was essential the board be made up of those who have personal and lived experience of disability or have worked in disability organisations.
“The expectation isn’t that each member have each of those particular qualifications, but the board as a collective have a range of those skills and experiences,” Senator Fifield told reporters.
The minister will write to members shortly to invite them to reapply for their positions.
He will also take new board appointments to cabinet.